Who Needs Ornaments?

As y’all know, I was a little rushed this holiday season and did not get around to putting up the tree. When I say “put up the tree”, it means decorating everything that isn’t moving. Putting up the tree really means putting up the tree, decking it with at least 10 strings of lights, several hundred ornaments that have been lovingly collected through Christmases past, putting lights around the entire interior of the house, putting out all my collected Christmas Teddy bears and handcarved old world Santas and angels and…well, a lot of stuff. So, when I was running behind and SwampMan generously offered to help me out by putting up the tree, I was delighted that I could concentrate on cooking. I also thought that we were talking about the same thing when discussing putting up the tree.

My mom arrived early and after bringing in all the food she had prepared, she immediately took over the stove while I kept an eye on the yeast rolls in the oven while mashing the potatoes. Neither of us had time to leave the kitchen. The guests started arriving, and I directed them to drop off the presents under the tree in the formal living room. I heard the tree being discussed.

“Well, that’s certainly interesting” said the son-in-law. “It doesn’t look bad, not at all.” Nobody else expressed that opinion.

Uh oh. What did he do?

I went into the big living room to see what had transpired. He had put up the tree. It had one string of lights. That was it! No tinsel, no garlands, no hundreds of ornaments lovingly placed. No Teddy bears or angels. No Christmas pillows and throws.

“That way, it’s really easy to take down, too!” enthused my husband to the son and son-in-law, who seemed to think that was perfectly reasonable. The women seemed less impressed by his thinking.

What the heck. That is one more string of lights than the living room would have had because I wouldn’t have done it this year!

Oooh, and Santa SwampMan left a new tactical shotgun under the tree for me, and a case of shotgun shells. Woohoo!

He’s also insisting that I get a concealed carry permit so that I can carry my concealed weapon(s) legally.

21 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    kc said,

    I was informed I was being a grinch if I didn’t want a tree this year, so I caved & told the ol man they had nice little potted norfolk pines at the commissary, with bows already attached, for twelve bucks. Then we could plant it in the yard.

    He came home with a 3 foot tall pine tree.We stood it on an old microwave cart. He put the star on top & the lights. I added some tinsel later. That is as far as it got. It was cute, very pretty through the window at night. Enough.

    By Christmas Eve it had lost a good portion of its needles & I asked him to take it down today. It’s lost more than half its needles.

    Next year, I bet I get a norfolk pine.

  2. 2

    swampie said,

    Heh. Yeah, one of those Norfolk pines is nice. It isn’t real fond of cold weather, though!

  3. 3

    kc said,

    Mmm, you’re right…I have a ti tree in the entrance to my office alcove (used to be the little bedroom), thought about decorating it. Got a hibiscus & a bird of paradise & a big split-leaf philodendron in front of the house…but I kinda wanted something indoors that we could later put outdoors.

    I’m open to suggestions!

  4. 4

    swampie said,

    A magnolia tree? If you’re in Orange Park and have a sheltered area to plant, perhaps in the corner of a brick or cement wall, an orange tree would work.

  5. 5

    kc said,

    We’re on the other side of 295 from Orange Park – just off 17, across from the Birmingham Gate at NAS. I have a sheltered area in the back yard that an orange might work in, I’ll do s’more study on it. LOVE the idea of a magnolia, too, there’s a big one (30ft?) in the back yard of the house across the street. Thanks, Swampie, I’ll give those some thought as the year goes on!

  6. 6

    swampie said,

    I can remember when (commercial) orange groves reached just south of Jacksonville.

  7. 7

    kc said,

    I didn’t live here then, but the newbies I speak to are astounded when I tell them Orange Park got its name because of the orange groves that were there. The ol man used to run away from home in Indiana every spring & go skydive in Deland & there were orange groves all around the DZ, he tells me.

    Then again, the property where my grandfather grew wheat when I was a little girl has been known to cough up a seashell or a dinosaur fossil now & again.

  8. 8

    Robert D said,

    Hi Gals, the phone line is fixed. Nice present swampie…I want one. We settled for a nice “halographic” tree at the last minute. (fiberoptics are awesome) I’ve always hated fake trees until now.

  9. 9

    Robert D said,

    Geeze, after reading that, I hope it made sense. If not.

    I’m back online.
    I want a tactical shotgun.
    I have a Christmas tree.

  10. 10

    swampie said,

    You know, Robert D, I believe I’ll hit the after Christmas sales just to find a fiber optics tree.

    We knew what you meant!

    And here I thought you might be having electrical problems with the storms.

  11. 11

    swampie said,

    KC, when James Oglethorpe explored Amelia Island in 1735, he found deserted* orange groves. Heh.

    *Deserted because the British killed the residents in 1702. Death has a tendency to dampen one’s grove tending and other agricultural pursuits.

  12. 12

    swampie said,

    From “First Book of History for Children and Youth”, revised edition published 1850:

    7. While in Georgia, we shall observe some delicious fruits, that do not flourish in the Northern States. Oranges, lemons, limes, and figs, grow here in plenty. These last, when taken fresh from the tree, are far more delicious than when dried, as we get them at the north. The people often eat them for breakfast, and they make an excellent meal.

    8. Most of the orange and fig trees in Georgia were killed by a frost, in 1835. But the trees have grown up again, and bear finely. The average crop of an acre of orange trees is six to eight thousand oranges.

    It seems as though it were warmer in preindustrial North America than now, when it is far too cold for citrus fruits to thrive in Georgia or indeed, even north Florida.

  13. 13

    swampie said,

    The citrus boom in NE Florida collapsed after the freeze of 1895.

    More coldening!

  14. 14

    swampie said,

    William Bartram had a lot to say about oranges in NE Florida in his writings.

    As for the Cow ford alluded to in his writings:

    Location:Bay Street on grounds of Courthouse.
    County: Duval
    City: Jacksonville
    Description: This narrow part of the St. Johns River, near a clear freshwater spring was a crossing point for Indians and early travelers. The Indian name Wacca Pilatka, meaning “Cow’s Crossing”, was shortened by the English to Cow Ford, and Jacksonville was known by this name for many years. This crossing was used by the English when they made an old Timucuan Indian Trail into King’s Road.

  15. 15

    swampie said,

    The south of Europe, China, and the West Indies, furnish the largest supplies of this fruit. But it has, for a considerable time, been cultivated pretty largely in Florida, and the orange groves of St. Augustine yield large and profitable crops.

  16. 16

    swampie said,

    Sorry, the above quote was from the The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America by Andrew Jackson Downing and Charles Downing, Published 1900.

  17. 17

    Robert D said,

    The electricity was out for about 10 hrs from 12:30 Christmas morning. As soon as I replaced the uncooperative generator with a new one, and was hooking up the last cord, the power came back on. 😡 The phone lines were a much bigger mess and took a little longer.

  18. 18

    swampie said,

    Oh, dang. That must have made Christmas dinner a real challenge!

  19. 19

    kc said,

    I’m glad the problem we’re having today isn’t power – seems there’s some buildup of something, making water from the washer drain VERY slow, causing the overflow to…overflow…all over the carport. Snaking every dang opening in the house hasn’t solved the problem, so My Chief has gone to the hardware store to see what he can come up with. Of course, there’s likely to be a lag time between now & a solution, because he’s not just averse to asking driving directions, he’s also not real good at asking about household questions. Having been a handyman for quite some time, he’s pretty sure he knows everything he needs to know.

    I have ONE load of laundry if you don’t count sheets…but it can wait till tomorrow…

    Swampie, thanks for that review of Florida history. I knew a lot of it…at one time, but never exactly by date cuz we left when Kait was in 3rd grade. Nice to know I MOSTLY remember correctly!

  20. 20

    swampie said,

    Here’s another one for ya, KC!

    Location: Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
    County: Duval
    City: Jacksonville

    Description: Although East Florida was under Spanish control from 1783 to 1821, English speaking settlers lived along the St. Johns River in the late eighteenth century. In 1787, the Spanish crown granted a large parcel of land to Timothy Hollingsworth, who named his plantation Mulberry Grove after trees native to the area. In 1805, Mulberry Grove was purchased by a Georgia planter named John H. McIntosh. In 1812, he became a leader in the so-called Patriot War, an attempt by U.S. citizens to seize East Florida from the Spanish. After these efforts failed, McIntosh returned to Georgia. During the next decades, cotton was grown on the plantation, which came to be owned by Joshua Hickman. Prior to the beginning of the Civil War, Arthur M. Reed, a Jacksonville businessman, purchased Mulberry Grove, and in 1862 took his family there to live when Union forces occupied the town. Oranges, cattle and many varieties of fruits and vegetables were produced on the plantation in the decades after the Civil War. The main house with an oak shaded avenue leading to the river was an attraction for excursionists travelling on the St. Johns. In 1939, the U.S. government acquired a portion of Mulberry Grove Plantation for the Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

    So NAS lies where orange groves used to flourish.

  21. 21

    kc said,

    It’s possible, I suppose, that the little 50-year-old development I live in was also part of that plantation, though there’s really no soil for cultivationl. My yard is sand…& yes, they did find a grass that grows in sand cuz I DO have to own a lawnmower.

    I’m going to give this info to the ol man – he likes local history. No matter where the ‘local’ is.

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